If haredim who avoid army service are punished with personal sanctions, leftist peace activists and secular draft evaders should also be fined, sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were quoted as saying Sunday.

The Keshev Committee – tasked with finding an alternative to the “Tal Law,” which would equalize the burden of IDF service – reached a stalemate over the weekend due to a dispute between Netanyahu and Kadima on whether benefits should be cut from ultra-Orthodox individuals or only their religious establishments.

The prime minister’s associates raised the issue of leftist evaders to point out that haredim should not be punished for their ideology. Left-wing organizations blasted them for making the comparison between haredim and conscientious objectors.

“What they said shows a complete lack of understanding of democracy,” said Ishai Menuhin, chairman of Amnesty International Israel. “Sanctioning those on the Left who do not want to be part of an occupying army or those on the Right who oppose abandoning the Land of Israel would be wrong.”

“Those whose conscience does not permit them to take part in one kind of army or another should be allowed to fulfill their debt to society in a different way and not via army service,” Menuhin added.

Roy Yellin, who serves as a spokesman for several left-wing organizations, said those on the Left who avoid the army do so legally and those who do so illegally are thrown in jail. He accused Netanyahu of trying to distract the public from his efforts to help the haredim continue to evade service.

Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer said he opposes refusing orders to serve on an ideological basis.

“If the prime minister wants to present the Left as refusing, he should first deal with the Right, where there are many more people who have refused to serve since the disengagement from the Gaza Strip,” Openheimer said.

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